Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Two Letters on the Subject of Slavery in the United States, Addressed to Thomas Clarkson, Esq. >> Page 175

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Page 175

Correspondence | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 175
letter, what can you know of the true condition of the
" poor slave " here ? I am not aware that you have
ever visited this country, or even the West Indies.
Can you suppose that because you have devoted your
life to the investigation of the subject commencing
it under the influence of an enthusiasm so melancholy
at first and so volcanic afterwards as to be nothing
short of hallucination pursuing it as men of one idea
do everything, with the single purpose of establishing
your own view of it gatherin g your information from
discharged seamen, disappointed speculators, factious
politicians, visionary reformers and scurrilous tourists
--opening your ears to every species of complaint, exag-
geration and falsehood that interested ingenuity could
invent, and never for a moment questioning the truth
of anything that could make for your cause can you
suppose that all this has qualified you, living the while
in England, to form or approximate towards the for-
mation of a correct opinion of the condition of slaves
among us ? I know the power of self-delusion. I
have not the least doubt that you think yourself the
very best informed man alive on this subject, and that
many think so likewise. So far as facts go, even after
deducting from your list a great deal that is not fact, I
will not deny that probably your collection is the
most extensive in existence. But as to the truth in
regard to slavery, there is not an adult in this region
but knows more of it than you do. Truth and fact
are, you are aware, by no means synonimous terms.
Ninety-nine facts may constitute a falsehood : the hun-
dredth, added or alone, gives the truth. With all
your knowledge of facts, I undertake to say that you
are entirely and grossly ignorant of the real condition